Court Documents: Osorio Wasn't Using the Guard or Rip Fence

�© As are all of our blog posts, this story is protected by copyright; Popular Woodworking Magazine, 2010.

If you’re a woodworker, you know about the landmark lawsuit , Carlos Osorio vs. One World Technologies Inc. et al , and about the $1.5 million dollar jury award. Discussions, both for and against the verdict, have been ongoing since the jury decided that One World Technologies (known to us as Ryobi) was at fault. However what most people don’t know are the actual facts of this injury. How did Osorio cut his hand? What injuries did he sustain?

Popular Woodworking Magazine has obtained copies of hundreds of pages of court records from the U.S. District Court clerk that have some very interesting and fascinating facts.

The accident happened on April 19, 2005, and the table saw Osorio was using was a Ryobi BTS 15, which was purchased at Home Depot on Jan. 10, 2005, for $159. At the time of the accident Osorio may have been employed at that company for two months; however, this is not clear, according to a deposition by  Phat Vong, who purchased tools for the flooring company Osorio worked for.

Osorio is from Colombia, has a degree in computer science and was installing flooring as he learned English. At the time of the accident, he was trying to make a rip cut on a 2′-long, 2-1/2″-wide by 3/4″-thick piece of oak flooring, according to court records. He was attempting to cut the board “freehand” without the rip fence, according to the documents. Osorio intended to make a cut in a straight line all the way through the board. He had cut only a small portion of the workpiece when it got stuck at the blade. Osorio immediately experienced chattering and felt vibration in the workpiece. He stopped cutting and cleaned the tabletop. He then attempted to make the same cut again but the chattering continued, and he decided to push the board harder. His left hand then slipped into the spinning saw blade, according to court documents.

The saw blade height above the tabletop was set to approximately 3″ , at or near the maximum elevation, and the guarding system was not installed on the saw during the operation, documents state. The table saw was on the floor, Osorio was kneeling on one leg in front of the table saw, and his body was just to the left of the saw blade, according to a motion filed by Osorio’s lawyers.

When Osorio cleaned the tabletop, he removed dust, wood and other flooring.

During his deposition, the attorney for One World Technologies asked Osorio, “…¦Before you started this cut, did you take the rip fence off?” To which Osorio replied through an interpreter, “Yes, I took that piece off, because we didn’t use that piece only, I only use it when I have to make a straight cut.”

Osorio tried to rip 1/2″ off the board with the blade set at a slight angle. He was into the cut just past the teeth of the blade when his hand slipped forward into the blade, according to the deposition.

Osorio’s left hand was injured , his small and ring finger were completely severed, and his middle and index fingers were severely lacerated, including damage to nerves, blood vessels and tendons. His fingers were surgically repaired and reattached, but he continues to suffer from lack of motion, numbness and pain in his left hand, according to court records.

We’ll publish more details on this case as we learn them.

– Glen D. Huey

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